Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving

Today families are sitting down to celebrate Thanksgiving. But there is a group of people sitting down to a very different table.


They are sacrificing time with their loved ones to be there when tragedy hits. They are rarely seen but always heard. They are the voice behind the Thin Gold Line. Thank You to those that make that sacrifice not only today but each and every day. Thank You

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Art Class


Take a look at this beautiful piece of artwork snoopy did for art class this week. She did such a great job. The girls love to draw and have a stack of how to draw books. Recently we came across some youtube videos that give some step by step instructions on how to use oil pastels and the girls have found a new love.



Thursday, November 21, 2019

Thinkwell Review

Thinkwell homeschool is a new online math program we are trying out for the Homeschool Review Crew. We received the 7th grade math which is designed for middle school students there is also an honors version if you have a child that is a little more advanced. These are online courses that offer 12 months of access. Price per course is around $125.00 a year per course.

We started off by taking the placement test that they offer online. The girls did well with the
placement test and it scored them in there current grade level. Gabby is doing Thinkwells7th grade math with Professor Edward Burger. There are approximately 320 video lessons in this course. The videos lessons are some where in the ball park of 5-10 minutes long. Short and to the point videos help to keep her attention.  The program offers a 36 week lesson plan that all laid out and ready to follow. I can print the lesson plans off so the girls can pin them on there schedule board where its easy for them to see what they need to do each day. I like that they are already done for me so it saves me tones of time.

Lessons and assessments are automatically graded saving me time and giving the girls the feed back they need quickly so they know what they need to work on. The drill and practice exercises not only automatically graded but they are given step-by-step answer feed back to help them see what they did wrong. Assessments are also automatically graded. The program offers chapter and practice test as well as midterm and final exams. I feel like they test often enough to give me a good picture of what the girls know and what they need to continue working on.

I discovered printable worksheets that come with answer keys. We used these after the girls finished the online portion of the program. They give them lots of extra practice to really help drive the concept they are learning home. I like to see them practice working problems out on paper and not just the computer. So I am always happy to see good worksheets like these.

Gabby was impressed with the video part of the program. Our current math program has videos but there is not person in the video it just shows the problem being worked out. Thinkwell is completely different. It shows the problem on the right then on the upper left it shows the instructor. Then it shows the instructor working out the problem. He is actually writing and doing the problem even shows him using the calculator when necessary. She felt that his explanation were simpler and easier to understand then our other math program. She really likes that there is a real person showing her what to do although she couldn't really tell me why. I think its just a better connection having a person explaining rather than just a voice and a mouse clicking around the screen.

Over all I think this is a fun math program that I can see us continuing to use when our subscription runs out. Be sure to click the banner below and see what the other reviewers are saying about the program.

6th to 8th Grade Math (Pre-Algebra) and High School Math  (Algebra to Calculus) {Thinkwell Reviews}

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThinkwellLearning/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/ThinkwellVids/
Crew Disclaimer

Saturday, November 16, 2019



Me and the girls took up karate last year. We frequently spar in the kitchen for practice. My oldest apparently snapped this picture of me in full sparring gear taking cookies out of the oven. It’s not usual for me to be sparring yell time out and run over to grab something out of the oven. She sent it to me at work the other day and said This is what amazing moms look like. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Elephant Learning Math Academy Review



We are trying out a new math program called Elephant Learning Math Academy. This is an online program and we received a 12month subscription. Elephant Learning Math Academy is an automated math academy for students from ages 2-16. The website advertises that the program can teach students at least 1 year of math in 3 months when they system is used 30 minutes a week. Tuition for Elephant Learning Math Academy is currently $35 per month and covers up to 3 students at sign up how ever you may request more students after sign up and they will cover all of your children in your immediate family.  They also have a scholarship program that you can apply for which is amazing.

I was excited for the girls to give this one a try. Math is just not a subject the girls find enjoyable and getting them to practice is difficult. I decided that we would use this as an extra credit program to see if it would encourage them to practice a little more.

I got them all signed up I felt that sign up was easy. You will enter your students name and age gender etc. You can select if they get unlimited play or if you want to limit it to 20min a day. When they first log in  they will do an assessment of sorts to help the program judge where they need to be starting off at. After that each day it gives them different activities to do. The activities appear to be in the form of games. It has some cute graphics which is great for the younger kits. You child can use the program on a PC or you can download the app and use it on a phone or a tablet. We use it on an Ipad2 and so far we have not had any trouble getting it to work on the older operating system that the Ipad2 runs on. I am very please with this because some of then newer apps will not work on the older Ipad2.


Some of the topics covered in the levels that the girls are currently in are: Multiplying Division Arrays, Understanding Fractions Collections I, Representation of Fractions, Percentage of Collections, Introduction to the Language of Decimals and many more.
When your child opens the app they select there screen it toggles back and forth using an arrow if you have more than one student. The child can see how they are doing in the different areas. W
hen they are ready to begin they select continue course work and it will take them to the screen below. They can select from there which game they want to play. These are just a few of the games or activities that they have to choose from. I have tested out a few of them my self just to see how they were. Of the games I tried they were mostly set up the same just with different characters that you move around to answer the questions. I like that it gives them another chance to answer the problem if they get it wrong but I feel like there should be a bit more explanation on how to do the problems to start with. The girls says that it is very repetitive and seem to take a long time before it moves on to something else. I'm not sure if this is because they are just not answering enough of the questions correctly or if it just requires a lot of practice. I did find where your student can test out of an area so this may be what we need to try doing when they get to the point where they feeling like its to easy and boredom is setting in.









Below you can see some screen shots of different math activities the program has given the girls.







From the parents end of things you can view different reports to see how your child is improving and what they have been working on as well as how much time has been spent.  I took a couple of screen shots so you can see what information is offered in the reports. I like that it tells me how much time they have been spending in the program that helps with my record keeping. I also like that I can quickly see what they have been working on. I would really like to have the ability to select which topic they work on. That way I could match it up with what they are working on in there primary curriculum. The default in the program allows for 20 minutes of play per day. But you also can generate a worksheet based on the current activities from each subject. How ever completing the worksheets do not update the adaption algorithm which means the program wont show your Childs advancements so the app games are preferable.













All in all this is a fun little supplemental math program that I think could be helpful to students who need a little extra math practice. After a several weeks of the program the girls still say its to easy for them and that's ok. They are still willing to play it for me even if its a little easy. I think its a great way for them to review with out flash cards or boring worksheets.



Be sure to click the banner below and check out what the other Crew Members are saying about Elephant Learning Math Academy.



Elephant Learning Math Academy Subscription {Elephant Learning Math Academy Reviews}

Social Media Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ElephantLearningApp/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/326018460521178485/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-trzn9RVkSyRnycLYfoXwA
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/elephantlearningapp/


Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Kregel Publications Goldtown Beginnings Series Review

Its book time!!! Kregel Publications  has sent us two of the first books from the new Goldtown Beginnings. Jem Strikes Gold and Jem's Frog Fiasco You can find the hole series https://www.kregel.com/series/goldtown-beginnings. We have read several other book series by Kregel Publications so we were excited to give these a try. I found that the price of the series is quite reasonable and I was happy to discover some great free age appropriate learning activities at www.circlecsteppingstones.com.

The girls jumped right into these books. I think they had the first one finished before the end of the day they just couldn't put it down. The books are set in California in the year 1859. Anyone who remembers a little California history knows in 1859 thousands of settlers were coming to California for the gold rush. In the book this great kid named Jem and his family are trying to survive during the gold rush. The family pans for gold and sells pie to try and make enough money to survive. Jem runs into some trouble with a bully and finds a unique ways to deal with him. I don't want to give the hole story away but the girls just knew Jem and his little sister were going to get to keep that little dog.

In the second book Jem's Frog Fiasco. Jem has to find a way to feed his dog and ends up getting hired to catch bullfrogs for the local Café. Jem's little sister try's to help but like so many siblings arguments he thinks she is just getting in the way. After an argument little sis disappears and the search is on. The girls were on the edge of there seats for this book. One thought she was going to be kidnaped and the other thought they were going to find her hiding at the neighbors. If you want to find out what happens to the little sister your going to have to read the book because I'm not giving it away!

These are both really great books Both books sturdy soft cover books we had zero issues with the book construction. The cover is very appealing and in full color. We found a few pencil drawings in each book. The girls were excited to find pictures in the books many chapter books do not include pictures. The girls like see if the characters looked like they were imagining them to look or if they were completely off base. I love that each story teaches a different values. They are good hardy books that both boys and girls would love. I feel like the target age for the series is spot on neither to hard or to easy to read. The only complaint the girls had was the books were too short. I think the books were so good they just were not ready for them to end.


I would love for everyone to click the banner below and see what the other crew reviewers though of Goldtown Beginnings.



Jem Strikes Gold & Jem's Frog Fiasco  {Kregel Publications Reviews}





Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Calvert Homeschool Online Review

We are always looking for different ways to homeschool.  We were given the opportunity to try out a Calvert Homeschool. We received a 6month family subscription to Calvert Homeschool Online.  the family subscription covers up to 3 students and current pricing is $559.96 per year. I also found where you can purchase individual subject. I think this is a great idea because I like having the ability to mix and match curriculum to fit my kids needs. This program is completely online so you must have internet in order to use it. Calvert Homeschool offers classes in the basic subject areas. We found Language arts, Spelling for the younger grades, History/Social Studies/Geography (depending on the grade level) Math, and Science. The program use the Mastery approach to learning. With the belief that each student should have a complete comprehension of concept before they move on to the next level.

To get started you create your account, add your students and then assign what classes you want your child to take. We tested out the History/Social Studies area and the Language arts.

This program is completely online nothing to download or install. You or your child simply log in and away you go. The teachers dashboard allows you to follow everything your child does. You can look at your Childs progress, view messages from them. Create several different reports: report cards, grade report and a daily work report. The one thing missing is a way to record hours spent on the classes. For those of us in a state that requires us to track hours you will need to find something else to track you hours on. The program is self grading for the most part. We have found a few items that the program marks for me to go in and grade. It records everything from what lessons they have done to test scores.

The lessons include videos, audio files, games, interactive exercises. The girls log in to the program every day to find out what there assignments are. Once they long in they can easily see what I have assigned for them to do. They click the assignment view the topic they either watch a video clip, listen to an auto clip, read an assignment. They usually have some vocabulary words to learn and a game to play. Once they have worked through the material they move on to the questions. Most of the questions are self graded. I have found some things that it will mark for me to go in and grade. These are usually written assignments likes essays and paragraphs.

For the history/social studies subject the girls are finding it a little boring but they seem to be scoring well with it. For an online history/social studies course its decent enough. I feel like it covers the topics needed for the two grade levels we are working with. The set up for delivery of the lesson is similar to our original history program so the girls were able to step into this one fairly easily. They think more video lessons would improve it. They says its a bit heavy on the reading and by the time they get to the end of the days lesson they are starting to have a hard time focusing on the lesson. They prefer the Calvert Homeschool lessons over our original history/social studies program. They say the explanations are better and easier to understand.

Language arts is another section we are exploring. It covers different things for different grade levels of course but a few of the topics covered that we looked at are things like capitalization rules, story contex, grammar practice, point of view, Imagery and a hole lot more. Gabby says she would like to see the Language arts section have some more videos to help with understanding. But she also says that the written explanations are better than most and are usually easy to understand. She is a visual learner and videos are her cup of tea. She is scoring better on it than she did with the last online language arts program we used.


I dabbled around in the science portion of the program just to see what it was like. The girls explored it a little but for some reason they prefer our current science curriculum which is a very hands on curriculum. 

Math is also available through Calvert I took a look at this part because I am on the fence about switching math programs since the girls have done so well with what we have been using. The Calvert math looks to cover all the main topics for grade level math. Gabby gave some of the lessons a try. She is scoring well on them but Im not sure if its because she understands the explanations or if its because they are topics she has already covered in our current curriculum. The written explanations we viewed seemed to be explained in a simplified manner. We did find a number of video lessons which we were pleased with. I felt like the videos were to the point and did not have a lot of fluff which the girls tend to get overwhelmed with. 
Over all I think Calvert Homeschool would be a good option for a parent that needs some extra help with lessons. The self grading aspect defiantly takes some of the weight off. I would like to see a way for parents to enter the amount of time there child spent working on a lesson. The girls would like to see more video lessons to help with understanding and to help break up the amount of reading. I would love for everyone to click the banner below and see how other crew families used Calvert Homeschool.
Calvert Homeschool Online {Calvert Homeschool Reviews}
Social Media Links:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/CalvertHomeschool
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CalvertEdu
Instagram: www.instagram.com/calverthomeschool
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/CalvertHomeschool/
Crew Disclaimer

Wordless Wednesday


Monday, October 28, 2019


This kid likes to sleep in a nest of pillows. The fluffier the better. She has decided that hotel pillows make the best best for sleeping and she wanted to take them home with us.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Karate Tournament

The girls had a karate tournament last weekend. Gabby took 3rd in sparring and 2nd in forms. Snoop took 3rd in forms and honorable mention in sparring. Way to go GIRLS

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Brain Blox Wooden Building Planks Review

Brain Blox is the name of the game and we are learning with Brain Blox Wooden Building Planks. Incase you were wondering these are simple 100% natural wooden building blocks that don't require connectors of any kind. Brain Blox are designed to inspire creativity in your student. They can use Blox to lean math concepts, physics, engineering, problem solving skills and much more.  The sets come in a couple of different sizes with 100, 200, or 300 planks per box. With the set you get a booklet with some building ideas in it as well as an ebook and if you go to the link they have you will find building idea videos. We received the 200 plank set for this review. 100 planks allows you to build quite a few project depending on the size and difficulty level of the project. We never ran short on planks but if you had several children creating at the same time you would want to get a larger set of planks.

We mostly used these for building fun. I challenged the girls to think creatively and come up with some different builds. all on there own. Snoopy built a bed for her dog eraser and a table for her Barbie. Although I am not sure if Barbie would actually fit on it. I am sure her Poly Pocket doll would fit more comfortably. 




















Gabby built this funny looking building and this nifty little gazebo. She also worked on building a bridge over the weekend but she has not quite got the structural engineering part down yet and the bridge keeps collapsing. 

The Online building guide is great it offers so many great projects for your child to build. It offers step by step instructions and even includes pictures to help them along. We discovered free building cards on the website. We printed these and then shuffle them and draw one to use as a building challenge. The first one to complete the item on there card wins.  There is a variety of other projects on the website to help your kids get started. The difficulty level varies so there is something for both younger and older students. We also spent some time on the youtube channel which you can find here https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpUttakNtthj_haX8LwRlwA. If you have a visual child the youtube channel is a great place for them to learn. 

We don't always use one of the building guides. Some times we stack them like a jinga game and see how many we can pull out before it falls over. Some times we set them up like dominos on the kitchen floor and see what kind of patterns we can make when we knock it over. They would make excellent counting blocks for smaller kids learning how to count. You could use them to help a child learn shapes or multiplication tables. The possibilities with these blocks are endless. 
Click the banner below to see some of the great projects the other reviewers have made and how they used Brain Blox Wooden Building blocks in there homeschools. 




Brain Blox Wooden Building Planks {Brain Blox Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer